Wednesday, December 17, 2014

...and now for Something Completely Different

I've been mulling over a version of this post for far too long, so here goes:

It's time to make some changes around here.

As I've quipped before, all careers in chemistry eventually leave the lab. Nearly gone are the days of the frizzy white-haired scientist holding aloft the shimmering vial and shouting "Eureka!"

Today, we often find ourselves in transition: Post-docs become professors, who write papers and manage a group. Bench chemists move into operations or regulatory roles. Technicians re-train and become patent clerks. Even med-chem project leaders eventually hire enough people that they think project strategy and logistics far more than they shake sep funnels or run TLCs.

Adapting to change can be ruff.

And so it is with me -- I find myself at a career inflection point. My Twitter handle reads: one foot in, one foot out. Ever wondered what I meant? It means I'm no longer your friendly "workaday synthetic chemist." I'm still in a role where I think about chemistry daily, and I apply my skills to solve problems. . . I just don't run reactions with my own two (gloved) hands.

At this juncture, one feels a complex mixture of emotions, to be sure:

Excitement, to learn new things and travel more frequently.
Embarrassment, that I've been blogging about chemistry and yet haven't touched a rinse bottle of acetone in months!
Fear, that I won't be as good at this new venture as (I thought) I was at synthesis.
Resolve, that I'm going to buck up and do my best, despite my nerves.

So, gentle readers, please bear with me. I'm going to probably shift away from lab stories and synthetic methods, and try to return to the theme of my very first post:
"This blog will reach out to the wider world about science, and especially chemistry."
I may write more stream-of-consciousness posts about navigating complex organizations, managing expectations and people, and thinking strategically. I may say "vision" or "collaborative."
[Oh great, thinks half my audience, he's really drinking the corporate Kool-Aid now!]

Fine - I'll also still write about chemistry. When something really awesome catches my eye : )

Thanks again, as always,
See Arr Oh

I admire and applaud all who made it to the end of this short chautauqua. If you'd like to leave any kind advice on steering one's blog in a new direction, comments are open!


  1. Transition is tough. Imagine how I feel, relegated to a corner office, with whole departments of dozens of chemists now covering the different chemistries that were once all my own. I remember when I saw Mechoulam's Anandamide paper in Science and went in to make it over the weekend.
    In a world where chemical illiteracy is increasing, anyone with a foundation of understanding and experience will always be relevant. It multiplies better through writing and blogging, so good luck with all of that.

    1. [chuckle] If only that first situation applied to me...

      But thanks for the kind words below.

  2. Vision... collaborative... okay. Just don't start on 'transformative'...

  3. Don't be embarrassed about blogging on chemistry while not actually working in the lab. I haven't run a real chemical reaction in years, but I don't let it stop me. Best of luck.